Friday, November 11, 2011

Hampi, day 2; exploring some ruins and Lakshmi the Elephant

The gurgling in my stomach suddenly made a quantum leap into my intestine and I rushed through the darkness as quick as I could to the toilet.

Then, I had a sudden epiphany, realizing the profound, perhaps even esoteric, connection between my mouth and my anus as I suddenly wasn't sure which orifice to aim at the toilet first... Since this wasn't a situation rock-paper-scissors could settle, and neither seemed willing to wait, I realized sitting would allow them both access and so that morning's activity was commenced, as I rotated between cold sweats in bed and the toilet.

Shelley came in a couple times to see how I was, and was apparently having an amazing day, but I couldn't really follow what she was saying.

A bit after 1pm, I made it up to the rooftop where the others were sitting at a table chatting. I ordered a bowl of chicken noodle soup and Kiran sliced the top of a green coconut and stuck a straw in it for me and said it was the best thing to keep hydrated after being sick. I was still a bit disoriented, but the fresh air and sun did me good.

When I got a little strength back, I walked back through the bazar and a little ways into the hills. I was such a surreal place. Hot, silent blue skies; huge, smooth, clay colored boulders; bush-like cactuses,, occasionally adorned by a perched mynah bird or green Indian ringneck parrot. Below, down the bouldered slope, I could see the crumbling ruins of another temple, similar to the one in the bazar, but little left of it. Beyond was nothing but palm and banana trees and the mountain corpses.

I found the small Hanuman shrine that had a wonderful bas-relief carving of Hanuman. I would have liked to spend some time there, but an old woman demanded that I give her money for going inside. I argued with her for a few minutes then realized I could just walk away and come back tomorrow.

Feeling a little paranoid that I might get mugged (the woman made me uneasy, but really it was for no good reason, just paranoia) as the sun started getting low, and shadows of the rocks started creeping farther towards the opposite horizon, I continued back to the bazar and went back to Virupaksha Temple. This time, with no intentions of taking part in any local ceremony.

I returned up the hill we'd watched the sunset from the night before and this time followed the cows own to a hidden entrance that ended up bypassing the ticket booth and camera fee and in one.

Inside, I met Lakshmi the Elephant, who was working off her past life Karma, collecting one rupee coins from people with her trunk, in return giving a kiss on their forehead. It sounded cute in the travel guide, but seeing her standing there, legs in shackles, with her less than friendly looking owner, I decided to pass on that ceremony as well.

Somethiing else I started learning is that I didn't have to worry about having my camera stolen as much as I had to worry about being asked to take everyone's picture when they saw my camera. People would literally line up, calling, "One snap, one snap." It was harmless but more time consuming than I had the patience for. I once asked why they wanted me to take their picture. They answered, "So my photo can go to your country." I still didn't get it, but I'm sure it meant something to them.

Back at Gopi's rooftop, Shelley, Kiran, and his friend Ramesh were joined by a German woman who had some Ayurvedic medicine and she gave me three little white pills to help with the nausea that still lingered. We were set to leave the next day, but after missing most of my time being sick, and both Shelley and I being totally charmed with the place, we decided to stay an extra few days. As Shelley put it, it would be nice to stay around long enough to really get to know the place and the people enough to really miss them when we go. So far, it seemed like a place one could really become attached to.

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